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New Report goes beyond just saying Cycling doesn’t Pose a Threat to Men’s Health; It says Faster is Better.
A new study, reported on by Newsweek and published in the Journal of Urology shows cycling doesn’t affect a man’s “sexual and urinary health” any more than running or swimming does (which one would assume is none at all – at least this one).
In the past, reports existed that supported the notion that cycling could cause erectile dysfunction. While those reports were discredited as “lacking scientific rigor”, the myth persisted amongst the, well, let’s call them “the information deprived”.
In any event, this new study shreds the notion and goes one better to say that any negative attributable to cycling is vastly outweighed by the benefits. Better still, the study split cyclists into two groups based on intensity, those who rode more than three times a week and 25 miles per ride and those who rode less… and:
Higher-intensity cyclists, somewhat counterintuitively, had better erective function compared to low-intensity cyclists
Hang on a second and let that sink in just a little bit. I know I almost had to pick my jaw up off the floor – it’s a rare day a study bares that out, let alone the point actually makes a report about the study. In a world where seemingly everything that comes out looks at how little one has to do, it was nice to see the hotrods get a nod and a pat on the helmet for once.
The only problem they did come up with for cyclists came in the form of genital numbness, or in less technical terms, numbnuts. Scientists did find, and I really don’t want to know how, that spending approximately 20% of the time out of the saddle helped immensely. I can, of course, corroborate this finding – and to tell the truth, I really don’t plan on explaining how. Just know it’s good to jumble the jewels now and again with a quick shake out of the saddle. What is important here is the why. Numbnuts are caused by a saddle that restricts blood flow to the chestnuts so that’s why riding out of the saddle helps – it gets the blood flowing in the nether region again. So, either get a harder saddle or spend some time climbing peaks out of the saddle.
Other than cranky cajones, which we know are fairly common, cyclists have every reason to rejoice. We still have things like saddle sores and chafing to be aware of, but the big problems appear to be a worry of the past.
Now, before you ask (or comment), yes. I was aware of every double-entendre. They were all on purpose. ‘Cause we all need a little laugh from time to time, especially about a topic that begs for a chuckle.
Ride hard, my friends. Heh.
*Obviously, riding a bike or running is no guarantee you won’t end up playing pill roulette. Bad things do happen to fit people. On the other hand, without fitness and an intelligent diet, your chances of blowing an ungodly amount of your monthly income on pills increase exponentially. Sadly, that choice is quite real.
Everything is pumping as it should. The upper chambers are a little bigger than normal, but not enough that I’m having any backflow issues (no leaking valves).
The doctor said, “Whatever you’re doing, just keep doing it.”
So I shall!
We were down in Florida, Panama City Beach to be exact (it’s like Daytona, only not quite as nice. If you’ve been to Daytona Beach as an adult, you get the joke). We were sitting in our rented beach house (which was admittedly, awesome) watching some late evening TV when I felt something dig into my back. I reached back to scratch it without even thinking and got a beach burr stuck to my finger. I picked it out of my skin, walked over and tossed it into the garbage can. No biggie.
When I sat down, I felt an itch in the same spot the burr was dug into my back. I reached back to scratch it…. and got a barb stuck just underneath my fingernail. Good Lord, did that suck!
I tried to dig it out with some tweezers but just couldn’t get at it. Then my mother-in-law tried. Unfortunately, she took a stab at it and pushed it deeper into my finger, deep enough I couldn’t see it anymore. That was about 31 days ago. Now, if you paid attention in school, you probably learned that the body is amazing at pushing foreign objects out, so I decided to let the body do its thing…. As of last week it still hadn’t worked its way out yet and my finger was starting to ache so bad that I was having a tough time operating my left shift levers on my bike. My middle finger was infected. Bad.
Interestingly, when I was a kid my little brother got something stuck beneath is toenail at camp and never told my mom about it. It got so infected he almost lost his big toe. Seriously. I had a feeling I was going to be in trouble if I didn’t get to the doctor. I also remembered that my brother was in the hospital for a week while they drained his toe.
What has two thumbs and doesn’t have a week to sit in a hospital?
In a last-ditch effort before I went and saw a doctor, I snuck in a few minutes early at the office, sterilized a pocket knife and some nail clippers and went to town. I won’t get too into the descriptions but there was puss, blood and pain. In the end, I dug that little bastard out though.
This is a week later:
Now for the disclaimer: On this hand, what I did is exceptionally stupid according to the powers that be. If I’d screwed up just a little bit, I could have lost my main salute finger or worse. As well, if I’d let that infection go much further I could have really been in trouble. I should have let the pros handle it.
On the other hand, I won’t have to come up with $10,000 for my deductible either, so that’s a win either way.
Humorously, on somebody else’s hand, I’m thinking back on my post the other day, about the wussification of men who can’t even change a car tire…. A pocket knife and fingernail clippers.
I’ve heard and read a lot of stupid stuff over the years but my new doctor laid one on me that I hadn’t heard before – that the health risks outweigh the benefits of extreme athletics. A friend of mine doubled down on that in a comment by sharing that she’d heard that not only do the risks outweigh the benefits, there are no benefits to exercising the way I choose to.
“Incredulous” is the best word that fits, for me. Maybe “nuts” would be for anyone who actually believes as some doctors do.
I am slim enough to be able to complain about five extra pounds, and actually mean it. I am fit enough to keep up with my kids and teach them sports by doing, not by trying to explain from the sideline. I have a zest for life that the vast majority of the world would be jealous of…. because I get to play for an hour a day and a few more on the weekends.
I ride with my wife, spending hours on the road together throughout the week. The fun we have cycling together passes on through every moment we spend together. We laugh together like we used to when we were just kids dating. I no longer seek an escape from life through drugs or alcohol, I have a Twelve Step Program that I work diligently, and my bikes. Either one alone leaves something to be desired. Together, I feel like I’ve won the lotto. Every day I wake up.
No benefit indeed.
Life is short, bikes are cool, and cycling is fun – and anyone who would put out the garbage that there is no benefit to cycling ten or twelve hours a week, when done wisely, is a quack. Better, with a straight face, look at some poor, obese person who’s body is shutting down due to complications from diabetes, heart disease, liver disease and poor circulation then tell me there’s no benefit to riding a bike twelve hours a week. How about someone who can’t leave their house because they’re too fat? Someone who can’t even get out of bed?
The notion there is no benefit to a good bike ride is simply freaking nuts. The idea that the risks outweigh the benefits is right behind it.
I wonder if the issue here isn’t about the definition of extreme, though. While many could view what I do as extreme, mainly by duration of a weekend ride or perhaps by speed (with a fair bit of ignorance, I might add – I may be fast against the average Joe, but I am not fast against real speed), I find it hard to classify me as “extreme”. Dedicated? Absolutely, but extreme? Hardly.
The real issue here is laziness. Labeling a fit cyclist or runner as “extreme” is lazy. It’s measuring a fit person against a horrendously unfit populous to come up with an average that unfairly slants against a fit person. Any doctor who would stoop to such a label for a fit person in their late 40’s who is so healthy they don’t take one prescriptive medication to correct a lack of fitness, is off (even if I would view the label as congratulatory anyway).
Life is about quality, and while I would definitely like some longevity, I wouldn’t trade my happiness for an extra ten years on the back of 85, 90 or 100.
Now, if you would excuse me, I have a hundred miles to ride. Chuckle.
This post is about my experience, strength and hope. My results may differ from yours.
I rode my bicycle more than 8,500 miles last year. The year before was 7,500. The year before was 6,000. The two years before that topped 5,500. Add my miles up over the last six years and I’m well into my second time around the world (38,000 miles and change). I ride an average of better than six days a week, but I never considered what I do “extreme”. Intense, maybe, but not extreme. Extreme was for those crazy people who are running marathons through the desert, or who take a couple of weeks to cycle across the US… Not me.
The last time I sat in a doctor’s office (something like 3 or four years ago), after having a full blood workup, my doctor said, “Whatever it is you’re doing, keep doing it”. Cholesterol, blood sugar, my “inflammation” numbers… by every measure I was extremely healthy. In that case, extreme was good.
Going back three doctors and a decade there has been concern over my EKG readings though. The first cause for concern was the “spike”. My “spike” is big. Really big. The spike led to an ultrasound of my heart and an “all clear”. I even called my doctor back to make sure I’d heard right in his office, that I was clear to continue exercising as I had been. The worry was that my heart was enlarged. While it is a little bigger than normal, it was discovered that it’s not really that big, it’s just strong.
Over the ensuing years I cut days off the bike to a point where I’ll now go for a month or two without taking a day off. I simply substitute easy days for taking a day off (three easy days a week). That’s not “extreme”, right?
Well, maybe not. It’s the duration.
According to my new doctor, who I know personally and have for years, and whom I trust to look out for me, there’s a new understanding that’s come about over the last three to five years about what happens after that spike in the EKG that I mentioned earlier. I can’t remember all of the jargon, but there’s a drop after the spike (which is normal) but there’s a small rise after that drop followed by another small drop that shouldn’t be there. It was once thought that the small rise was benign. Sadly for me, “once” is a very big word in that last sentence.
Unfortunately, because Government-down Obamacare sucks, I can’t be referred to a cardiologist to have my ticker checked out because I’m too healthy. While my EKG shows signs for concern, I’m not exhibiting any negative symptoms or problems related to that little rise…. On the other hand and thankfully, Democrats didn’t go full stupid for a Canadian-style socialized scheme so I can still pay for the consult and new ultrasound with a cardiologist out of my pocket. In the next few weeks I’ll be going to see a cardiologist about how to make my ticker keep up with the rest of me. Where this gets really fun, if there is something wrong with my pump, we’ll catch it early enough that the available treatment options will work excellently because I’m so damned healthy.
Anyway, back to the main topic: How much fitness is “extreme”? I don’t freaking know. I always figured I was a little above average and maybe slightly nutty, but extreme? We’re not even that fast, above average, yes, but I know a whole class of guys who ride a lot faster than my friends and I do… Then my buddy Mike pointed out over the phone yesterday, “Yeah, but it’s not about the speed. We’re out there doing a hundred miles in five hours.” And that’s precisely when I saw me as I am. If the average person puts in 30-45 minutes a day, five days a week… measured against that… Their week is my Saturday. Or Sunday. In those terms, I may not be hardcore, like someone who races, but “extreme” is fair.
Finally, and to wrap this up with a neat little bow, I still have a lot to learn about what is going on with me, whether it’s just genetics that is messing with me or whether I even have a problem to begin with. There is one thing that keeps ringing in my melon, what my doctor said about how much I choose to exercise or ride my bikes… Once you go from a normal amount of exercise to the extreme, the risks not only outweigh the benefits, there are no additional benefits.
That one hurts, and it fits me perfectly.
So, what’s next for me? Well, it’ll be that appointment with a cardiologist and I’ll wait for his recommendations – and I’ll follow them. If that means slowing down or limiting the length of time I’m on the bike, I’ll do whatever I have to for longevity. I like riding fast. I like being in the upper crust of endurance cyclists. I like long rides with my wife and friends. I also believe in one important axiom a friend of mine passed on to me: “It’s real easy to talk tough about death, until the bus shows up for you.”